There are two main ways in which you can commercialise IP, you can either:

  • Sell it (as you would sell a house or car); or
  • Permit someone else to use it (as you would if you rented out a flat).

Selling IP

Selling IP to a third party is technically known as an ‘assignment’. In the same way that you would not be able to continue to live in a house that you have sold to someone else, once IP has been assigned to someone else you will have no further rights to use that IP. This is important to remember because if you continue to use the IP after you have assigned it then, unless you have the permission of the new owner to do so, you will infringe the new owner’s rights in the IP (which is illegal).

Licensing IP

Instead of assigning IP, it may be more appropriate to retain ownership of the IP and instead just allow someone else to use it. This is known as a ‘license out’. On the other side of the coin, it may be that you need to use IP which is owned by someone else. You will need to request to be granted rights to use the IP. This is known as a ‘license in’. When the license is of copyright in artistic works, of design rights or of a trade mark, for reproduction on an article, it is called merchandising. For written or musical works the license may be part of a Publishing Agreement. For any filmed material, it is likely to part of a Production Agreement.